Friday, April 30, 2021

Book Review: Becoming an Empowered Empath by Wendy De Rosa

book review, empath, witch, pagan, occult

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier this week I finished yet another book. I have been a powerhouse lately when it comes to reading books. I have no doubt I will easily reach my goal of 24 books by the end of the year. We are nearing the end of April and I've already read 8 books. I know for some that is just a drop in the bucket, but for me, that is quite a lot for this early! Most of my reading is done during my offtime in the summer. Hopefully, I get to read some fiction books at the beach this summer, but until then I am plowing my way through a number of witchy and occult books hitting the market this year. My latest read was Becoming an Empowered Empath: How to Clear Energy, Set Boundaries, and Embody Your Intuition by Wendy De Rosa.

I'd like to begin this review by stating that De Rosa is a white, Italian Catholic woman married to a Puerto Rican man. This is important because it sets the tone for the book and made me acutely aware of some of the cultural appropriation within its pages. That isn't to say the book is bad or that you shouldn't read it, but it's important to keep this in mind while reading. I normally like to start off with what I enjoyed about a book, but this time I want to start off with what I didn't like because it was such a prominent feature of the book. De Rosa uses the Hindu chakra system as the way to "clear energy, set boundaries, and embody your intuition." This did not sit well with me, and I know that it will not sit well with many of you. Chakras belong to Hinduism and are therefore part of a closed practice. I know many a witch and occult practitioner that uses them, but I do not and I never will. Chakras do not belong to me or my culture, and I have not been initiated into Hinduism. She also hints at karma a couple of times, another Hindu belief. Despite the cultural appropriation, I pressed on with reading the book, knowing she had valuable insight to offer. I was not disappointed.

If you can move past the chakra talk and modify the work being done to better suit your cultural background, the information De Rosa provides is excellent. Most witches tend to be more open to the energies around them, which can lead to fatigue, depression, anxiety, and displaced emotions if you don't carefully protect your own energy. De Rosa, through the use of energy (chakras) and guided meditations, provides the foundation one needs to heal past traumas, recognize energy transfer, and remove unwanted energy. Each chapter ends with journaling work and a guided meditation. The journal prompts are designed to get you digging deeper into the root cause of your unbalanced energy; in a nutshell, these journal prompts resemble a lot of what people do during shadow work, so if you are looking at engaging in some shadow work while simultaneously protecting your own energy, I highly recommend reading through her prompts and taking them seriously. For the purpose of this review, I glossed over most of the questions, but a few stopped me in my tracks, especially those about past traumas and ancestral wounds. I've mentioned before that I have two wonderful, supportive parents, but we financially struggled. There were times when we went without. Ancestrally, both sides of my family have struggled financially, which has resulted in people hoarding money and belongings. While I don't hoard objects, I do have an unusual attachment to the objects I own and great anxiety over money. Many of the journaling prompts put forth by De Rosa helped be deconstruct some of these issues, which eased my financial anxiety greatly. It even allowed me to add some items to the donate pile in my basement. Like I said, I may not agree with the use of chakras, but her method is sound.

Each of the guided meditations at the end of each chapter is beautiful and well designed. A link is even provided (Link here) to find recordings of these guided meditations, all of which are completely free! Of course, you are always welcome to read and record them yourselves, but if you are lazy like me, having them freely available is a huge plus! This is unheard of for most books, and De Rosa and her published should be applauded for providing free book resources. De Rosa clearly takes her work seriously and truly wishes to help others heal.

However, my favorite part of the book was De Rosa's discussion of her own white privilege, her work over the last year (2020) to recognize this privilege, and how she has made changes. She uses her own experiences to encourage her readers to do the same, and at the end of the book, makes it very clear that empaths play an important role in changing the future into a more equitable one. She also addresses the pandemic, and how worldwide traumas manifest energetically, which I appreciated. It's okay to be overwhelmed. It's okay to be anxious. It's okay to be fatigued. These are normal responses, and ones that we can gain control of with the right work. De Rosa argues against using the word "blocked" in regards to your energy because "it assumes that the block can be moved and the energy will start flowing. Instead, traumatic imprints are doorways to the process of healing, releasing, and finding your power again." This quote really resonated with me. In the occult community, we talk a lot about blockages, when we should be discussing them as doorways. Just because something is standing in your way, does not mean that it has to be moved. Sometimes, you can do the moving. 

Becoming an Empowered Empath: How to Clear Energy, Set Boundaries, and Embody Your Intuition by Wendy De Rosa is available now from New World Library. If you are an overwhelmed empath, looking to get a firm grip on your gift, this is the book for you. Again, I encourage you to work around the chakras, but of course, that is entirely up to you.

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Seed Blessing Ritual

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Spring is well on its way here in Georgia. We had what was likely the last cold snap last week, sometimes referred to as Dogwood Winter, so it's time to start planting those little baby plants outside. Usually, people have started seeds by now, but it's honestly not too late to start them. I just finished putting in raised beds in my backyard and in the upcoming weeks I am going to be filling them with loads of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, some of which I am going to start from seed thanks to all the large amount of seeds I've received through Apothecary At Home. With that being said, to ensure my seed's success, I put together this lovely little seed blessing ritual that combines all the elements together.

What You'll Need

  • Seeds
  • Seed Starters (water already added) or Potting Soil
  • Spring Water
  • Sun

What to Do

This ritual can be performed during the Full Moon (fruition), Waxing Moon (growth), or New Moon (new beginnings). Place the seeds in the palm of your hand Feel the life force radiating from each seed. If any seeds do not radiate with energy, discard them. For those that remain, clasp both of your hands together, warming the seeds with your body heat. Feel the seeds' energy and your own melding together. Welcome the seeds to your life and begin establishing a relationship with them. Ask them if there is anything they need or would like you to know. Give pause and listen. When you are finished speaking with the spirits of the seeds, say "My energy is your energy. Your energy is mine. We are one and the same; a relationship established, a life bond created."

Gently plant the seeds in the soil and say, "With this Earth, I encourage your roots to run deep and your stalk grow tall. May it nourish you and bring you strength."

Using your fingers, gently sprinkle some water over each of the newly planted seeds. Since the soil is already moist, you are not looking to soak the seeds, but symbolically unite and bless them with water. As you gently sprinkle the newly planted seeds with water say, "With this Water, I bless your growth. May it quench your thirst and strengthen your cell walls." (getting a little science in there!)

Next, blow on each seed and then say, "With this Air, I give you breath. May it bring you to life and infuse you with energy."

Place your seeds in a sunny area where they will be undisturbed while saying, "With this Fire, I give you warmth. May the Sun bring you life and encourage your growth."

And you're done! I encourage you to talk to your seeds each day to encourage their growth and continue developing your relationship with the seeds. When they are large enough, transplant your new seedlings into pots, your garden, or raised beds. Be sure to continue providing for your new plants and developing your relationship with them by giving them offerings of water, natural fertilizers, crystals, and other biodegradable offerings such as your own urine.

Why You Did It

Understanding the why's of a ritual are just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own. It's my intention that by providing these explanations, that you can build a better understanding of how spells are written and executed so you can modify and build your own spells (the goal of my Spellcraft Series). 

For this spell/ritual, you have a couple of options for the moon phase used. This spell is rather flexible and depending on exactly what you want, you can change your timing around. The Full Moon is most commonly used for fruition and manifestation. Since you are trying to bring about new plants, the Full Moon is a possible moon phase to use. If you are looking more at growth, go with the Waxing Moon. The New Moon, on the other hand, is for new beginnings. Since you are starting something new, the New Moon is another excellent phase to use. I went with the Full Moon earlier this week because I am hoping to manifest more than just some healthy plants for my garden. I also want to manifest and foster deeper relationships with these plants.

In the first portion of the spell, you made a connection with the seeds by holding them in your hands. In doing so, energy was transferred from you to the seeds and from the seeds to you. This allows you to establish a bond and open the doors to communication. It also helps to awaken them. Many of these seeds have been dormant for quite some time. The heat of your hands gently wakes them up and prepares them for what is to come.

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Finally, we combined the 4 elements in this spell to bless the seeds and help them grow. First and foremost, seeds need all 4 elements in order to grow in the first place. The absence of one ingredient causes the seeds to fail to survive, sometimes even to germinate. Furthermore, too much of one element throws the entire system out of balance, leading to a failure to thrive as well. Earth provides the seedling with vital nutrients in the form of minerals. These nutrients help strengthen the seedling, allowing it to grow strong. Furthermore, the soil acts as an anchor, tying it to the life force that is Mother Earth. Next, we blessed our seeds with a quick drink of Water. Water is required for all life, providing our cells and that of the plant with the basic components needed for survival. Magically, Water is used to cleanse and bless, making it the perfect element to use when blessing the seed with a bountiful future. After Water, we infused the seed with our own breath. Breath, which is representative of Air, is folklorically associated with the breath of life, being used to breathe life into otherwise dead, dominant, or inanimate objects, which is the desired effect in this spell. From a scientific point of view, however, our breath is composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, which is needed by plants to carry out photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, the plant makes glucose, which it then uses as an energy source for growth. By blowing on the seeds, not only are you strengthen your connection to the plant by offering them something from you, but you are quite literally breathing life into the plant by providing them with carbon dioxide. Finally, we planed the plants in the Sun, our representative of Fire in this spell, to activate growth and give them life. Sunlight is the final ingredient in the recipe, providing the catalyst for continued plant growth. While seeds do not need sunlight to begin germinating, they do need it to sustain growth, as the energy from sunlight energizes the electrons needed to carry out the first steps of photosynthesis. Magically, sunlight is a purifier as well as a life-giver. Combined, the four elements unite to ensure successful growth and a bountiful harvest.

Wish to break this spell? There is nothing to break in this spell, so just leave it be. However, if you no longer want to grow the seeds, you can remove them prior to sprouting or discard the seedlings in a compost pile. I find this to be very rude after you attempted to form a relationship with the plant but to each their own.

Remember to record this ritual on your ritual/spell worksheet!

I hope each of you has a prosperous Spring and an even more bountiful Summer! May all your seeds bear fruit.

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Book Review: New World Witchery by Cory Thomas Hutcheson

folklore, witchcraft, witch, occult, hedgewitch, magick, magic, ritual, spell, witchery

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The pile of books on my desk is slowly shrinking as I pump out more book reviews. I promise I have more I want to talk about than books, but honestly, books have kind of been the only thing on my mind lately. Reading is one of those things I do to escape; that, and playing World of Warcraft which I have been doing a lot of lately. But I digress. Yesterday afternoon I finished New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson. When I read the title for a potential review, I knew immediately this was a book I needed to read and one my readers would appreciate as well. I was not wrong.

There were so many amazing things in this book that I am not even sure where to start. First, Hutcheson takes a stance to use feminine pronouns throughout the book when referring to witches, his reasoning being women are often underrepresented in literature. He goes on to explain that men are also witches, and by using the pronouns she/her he is not neglecting this fact. I appreciated this. Representation matters! Furthermore, he takes a stance against cultural appropriation, stating that while he is sharing information from a vast number of different practices and cultures, that does not mean they are necessarily yours to take. I said "Yes, yes, yes!!!" while reading this section of the book and my boyfriend was like, "You're clearly giving that one a good review!" and he's right. It isn't about being "woke" or a "sheep" or "PC" to recognize bias and cultural appropriation when we see it; it's the right thing to do because cultural appropriation hurts other cultures. Later, Hutcheson encourages readers not to use the word "smudge" and to find cultural alternatives to white sage and Palo Santo due to their cultural roots and the environmental damage being done to mass market these products. He sticks to his guns throughout the book, being sure to reiterate his points often.

The book is divided up into thirteen rites, because, witchery! Within each rite are a number of chapters discussing different practices, folklore, historical documents, and lessons pertaining to that rite all within North America, mostly the United States, but some from Canada and Mexico. He covers everything from defining "witch" using folklore to help support his definition, to spell casting, divination, familiars, shapeshifting, and witch flight. Obviously, my favorite sections were on witch flight, familiars, shapeshifting, and spirits, all of which came with some amazing folktales from all over North America and fantastic lessons at the end. In some cases, he compares North American tales to those found in Europe, showing how they changed once immigrants moved to the colonies. Every chapter includes amazing footnotes with additional explanations and suggested readings at the very end. I walked away with a huge list of books I need to eventually check out to learn more. With the suggested readings he explains what he liked about the books and why he is suggesting them. His insight helped me decide if a book should be placed on my list of books to read immediately or if it was something I could get around to eventually. I appreciate his insight. Each chapter also includes "The Work" and "Dirt Beneath the Nails." "The Work" is about things you should be working on generally speaking, while "Dirt Beneath the Nails" is active lessons Hutcheson encourages you to do. These active lessons are almost always a spell or ritual, to help you get practicing right away. My favorite rituals were the ritual to meet the Devil,  the ritual to meet the Man in Black, and the ritual to build a shapeshifting mask and use it. These are three rituals I have stored away from later use and I will be making my own mask very, very soon. Don't be afraid though. Hutcheson provides ways to protect yourself, break spells, and remove vows should you change your mind. Furthermore, the Devil referred to here is more like the Witch Father, if you believe in him.

Hutcheson covers the Spiritualist movement in the United States which I ate up like candy. In college, I wrote a lengthy paper about how Spiritualism inspired Charles Dickens and shows up in his writing. There is a reason I have a cat named Charles Dickens. Haha! Needless to say, the history he covers here and the sources he used were fascinating. He also takes a pro-talking board stance which I greatly appreciated. Prior to the film The Exorcist, talking boards or spirit boards were commonly used without any negative reports. For some reason, people let that movie completely change how they perceived spirit work, and now we have a large number of witches that have convinced themselves spirit boards open portals and are evil. Hint, hint, they are not in any way shape or form. You've tricked yourself into believing Christian propaganda. 

Finally, Hutcheson promotes localized witchcraft, encouraging the reader to use herbs, crystals, and other magical ingredients found close to home. He mentioned contacting your local spirits, developing a relationship with plants near your home, and keeping your local environment clean. Several of the "The Work" sections encourage the reader to research local folklore and keep a journal of what you find. I adore this message, and it's one I encourage often here on my blog.

In all honesty, I have nothing negative to say about this book. Nothing. I took detailed notes while reading, and nothing I wrote down is remotely negative. That should tell you something about this book. New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson is available now. I loved this book so much I am purchasing a physical copy to return to later. This will be one I use time and time again and one I cannot help but highly recommend. 

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Monday, April 19, 2021

What Is A Spell?

spellcrafting, spell writing, spell casting, spell, magick, magic, witchcraft, witch, hedgewitch, ritual, witchy, occult

Casting spells is an integral part of any witch's practice. Whether these spells come from an ancient text, a modern spellbook, or they are written yourself, it's important to understand the basics of how spells work, how they are written, and how to craft your own spells. The art of spellcrafting is the process of designing and using spells, whether it be from scratch or tweaking an existing spell. Time and time again it has been shown that the spells you write or modify tend to be more effective, but it should be noted that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using spells you find exactly as they are. I do so all the time. Sometimes it's just easier, especially when I am in a pinch. However, when in doubt try to go with at least a modification.

To fully understand the art of spellcrafting, one must first understand the basics of a spell. What is a spell? How do they work? Why would you use them? What are the major components? Does it have to involve a divine being? In this first post of the Spellcrafting series, I will cover these basics and more, before introducing you to the art of spellcrafting itself.

What Is A Spell?

A spell, in its most basic form, is the intent to enact change through the use of energy. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from chanting and dancing, to elaborate rituals requiring multiple people over several days. It's important to note that not all rituals contain spells; sometimes rituals are purely spiritual, used to celebrate a holiday or honor a deity. Sometimes the spells contain physical ingredients and other times they require nothing but the energy you raise. However, all spells contain the same basic components, no matter how elaborate they may be, which I will discuss below.

Despite the commonality of spells, they are not inherently religious and do not belong to one practice. Contrary to popular belief, most religions around the world use spells, including Christians; think the act of prayer. When praying, a person sets an intent, raises energy, and releases it into the Universe, often calling on a deity of some sort to aid in the manifestation of the prayer. Usually, it is expected that the deity will do most of the leg work for you, making it less active overall on your part. This sets prayer apart from other active forms of spell work, but it's a simple spell all the same which is often combined with other more active forms of spell casting. And while prayer is generally a religious act, spell work, in general, is typically secular, making it available to anyone, despite their religious beliefs. This is why it's possible to be a practicing witch and believe in the Christian God and Jesus. I know some witches may disagree, but whether you like it or not, there are a large number of Christian witches and magic workers; they just don't all use the term "witch."

How Do Spells Work?

So a spell is the raising of energy with intention to enact change, but how does that actually work? To answer this, we need to look into a little bit of science. Everything on Earth vibrates with energy, from the clothing you are wearing to your favorite crystal. Whether something is alive or not, it vibrates with energy. Depending on different factors, like the state of matter and temperature, the atoms within an object vibrate at different speeds and frequencies. For example, the chair I am sitting on is solid and rather cool outside of where I am touching. The atoms in my chair are vibrating slowly, so slow that they are barely moving. However, where I am sitting is slightly warmer than the surrounding areas and because it is slightly warmer, this has heated up the atoms, infusing them with energy and allowing them to vibrate slightly faster than the atoms in the cooler areas. This has resulted in the faux leather stretching, ever so slightly expanding due to the atoms vibrating just slightly faster. This explains how and why you can infuse an object with your own intention; it's simply a transference of energy. The water I am drinking vibrates faster than my solid chair, and the air I am breathing even faster than the water, properties of which we have associated with various correspondences. But here's the thing, the energy signature differs from object to object, even two solids, depending on the chemical composition. This is why different crystals feel different energetically. Clear quartz and rose quartz are almost identical chemically, but rose quartz contains trace ions of titanium, iron, or magnesium which gives it its pink hue and changes its energy signature.

The energy within an object, especially the energy within you, can be directed through spellwork. Each unique energy signature can be used in different ways, infusing the spell with different intentions while strengthening the energy of the overall spell. While you don't need anything but yourself to cast a spell, there is something to be said for using herbs, crystals, and other objects. As I said, they strengthen the energy of the spell while also changing the overall energy signature. Once the energy is raised, it can be directed with your intention and pushed out into the Universe. This is why spell casting is often so tiring; you are raising and using a ton of energy in the process. 

I know, I know. I still haven't explained exactly how they work. So let's look at some science again. The Laws of Thermodynamics and Newton's Laws of Motion can help explain exactly how spells work, even though we cannot scientifically test the efficacy of spells. First, energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form. This is the foundation of a spell. We are taking one form of energy and turning it into another depending on how we cast the spell. Second, a system naturally moves from order to disorder. This explains how once that energy is directed in an orderly fashion out into the Universe, it spreads chaotically until it finds something to act upon. Third, an object in motion will remain in motion unless something acts upon it. While technically a spell is energy, it eventually slows down and dissipates, but is not destroyed, due to external forces acting against it. This explains why spells for big changes require constant upkeep, sometimes being cast every day for an entire moon cycle. Finally, for every action, there is an equal, yet opposite reaction. Spells cost you something; always. Sometimes that cost is the energy expenditure from you. Sometimes it's your windshield breaking after casting a particularly powerful curse on your ex-husband. Yeah, that would be me. There is a payment for the energy you are raising and without this payment, the spell will not work. 

In its simplest of forms, spells work through the redirection of energy with intent, but like all things, must follow the rules of physics. This is why you can't light a candle by blowing on it, bring back the dead, or fly. When the energy is sent out, it interacts with other energies, tweaking and adjusting them to bring about your desire, acting as a ripple through the Universe. 

Why Would You Cast A Spell?

Really, for any reason you want. Spells are specifically designed to change things in your life, whether that change be a new job, more money, a fertile garden, healing, or the removal of an annoying coworker or ex-lover. I've used spells in a variety of ways throughout my time as a witch, some of which are documented here on this blog. I've cast spells to reaffirm my goals, banish depression, increase self-love, cleanse my house, increase my prosperity, say no more often, and connect with my ancestors. You can also cast spells to heal yourself and others and do general good works. Not all spells are cast for selfish reasons, but you should be mindful of consent when casting spells for someone else.

What Are The Major Component Of A Spell?

All spells have the same basic components, which I will dive into more detail later when we start talking about writing our own spells. These components include:
  • an intention or desire
  • spell composition and ingredients
  • a shift in consciousness and/or the preparation of sacred space
  • raising, directing, and releasing energy
  • creating channels and manifesting
Combined, you have everything to need to cast a successful spell. I've broken down these basic components into multiple articles so I can spend time going into each in-depth while providing exercises for you to complete to enhance your spellcrafting and spellcasting ability.

You may notice that the inclusion of a deity is left off this list of basic components. This is because it is not necessary to ask for the assistance of a deity in order for a spell to work. I do not personally call upon deities in my spells, although I sometimes include them in a spell for other witches to use. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, spells are secular and therefore can be done without any divine intervention.


Hopefully, this has cleared up any confusion you may have about what a spell is and how it works, and if you are a seasoned witch, I hope I have provided some insight into the workings of spells that you can add to your repertoire of knowledge. For skeptical and scientific-minded witches such as myself, even if we cannot scientifically measure the success of spells, there is research to suggest that we can potentially manipulate energy. We also know that spells act as a way to focus our own intentions and the belief in the spell, as well as the outside work we do once the spell, is cast has been proven effective. 

In the next article, I'll discuss the ethics associated with creating and casting spells. This will likely be a touchy subject, considering everyone has a different view of right and wrong, but setting your own ethical code for spellcrafting is incredibly important to the success of your spells and your mental wellbeing. 

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: SpellCast Folk Magic for the 21st Century by Luna Hare and Antony Simpson

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am in contact with several team members at a number of different large publishers. Because of this, I am able to bring you as many book reviews as I do, especially as of late. Lately, I have been getting 2-3 books at a time, which is why there have been so many reviews lately, but I absolutely don't mind doing these sorts of posts. They are some of my most widely read posts, other than the series on hedge riding and my 10 crystals and herbs every witch should have. I believe a lot of this lies in the fact that there are so many occult books on the market, with more being added every single day. How do you decide which books to purchase and which ones to let go of? If you're like me, you don't have a ton of money to blow on witchcraft books, so making sure you are purchasing a book actually worth the money is important. So where am I going with all this today? Well, Hare and Simpson did not come to me from a big publisher. In fact, they self-published their book using Amazon, which makes my review all that more important. Authors, especially those that self-publish, have to advertise their own books, hoping that if they can go viral, their sales will offset the cost of originally writing and publishing the book. So needless to say when they reached out to me about a book review, I was happy to oblige.

SpellCast: Folk Magic for the 21st Century by Luna Hare and Antony Simpson is first and foremost a spellbook. It contains no introductory information, just tried and true spells that have proven effective by the authors. Both Hare and Simpson have been practicing for the better part of their lives, making them experts in the field of spell casting. They include everything from basic spells, charms, talismans, and oils covering a variety of topics including protection, banishment, love, fertility, death, cleansing, and so much more. The spells are easily laid out by type with simple yet easy directions. Most of the spells require little to no ingredients and most of the ingredients are easy to find or cheap. However, they do use a lot of essential oils, which can be easily substituted with an infusion if needed. I personally don't have a bunch of essential oils. The two I have came with my Apothecary At Home subscription box so working some of these spells as they are written is nearly impossible without purchasing expensive essential oils. However, Hare and Simpson encourage their readers to make the spells their own and offer a list of correspondences at the end of each chapter so you can make substitutions as needed. When in doubt, dried versions of the herbs, herb-infused oils, or herbal teas work in place of essential oils.

Each section is introduced by beautiful poetry, which is a spell in and of itself. The printed text font is large and easy to read although there are a couple of errors, likely due to the fact that they did not have a large editorial team like a large publishing company. The format is easy and simple, making it a breeze to skim through and find what you are looking for. The index is a little wonky, likely from the fact that software put it together, but you can still find what you are looking for nonetheless. Some sections are longer than others, such as the section on protection or chants. The Death section only contains one spell, which was disappointing to me, but it's a great spell to have in times of mourning and is more extensive than some of the other spells in the book. Throughout the book, Hare and Simpson offer sound advice, especially in the chapter on finance and money. Their "rules" include only asking for what you need, not using the phrase "harm none" in your spells, and being specific in your requests. This is some of the best advice I've seen in a book about spells in a long time. It was a nice change from the typical Wiccan spellbook. 

However, there were a couple things I did not like about the book, other than how short the section on death was. First, there is a spell that calls for painting a rock and throwing it into a stream to get a job. Be mindful of the type of paint you use as many of them contain toxic chemicals which will anger the river spirits. They do mention chakras in the book and cleansing them, which is a Hindu practice and therefore closed. Finally, there is a very fat-phobic spell for weight loss that simply reads "Eat less, move more. Padlock the fridge and hide the car keys." In this day and age, I expected a little more tact. I crossed out the spell in black Sharpie and sent that negativity right on out the door. I was thrilled with the rest of the book, but that spell left a sour taste in my mouth. It's not a reason not to purchase the book, whether in print or the Kindle version, but I suggest ignoring that spell altogether.

Overall, if you are looking for a non-Wiccan book of spells, Hare and Simpson are here to provide. SpellCast: Folk Magic for the 21st Century is a great little addition to any witch's bookshelf, whether you are new to witchcraft or not. When in doubt, they offer an amazing array of spells you can build your own from. SpellCast is available now on Amazon in both a print and Kindle version or get a signed copy directly from them!

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Magical and Medicinal Use of Linden

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter, Mercury, Sun
Element: Air
Powers: Divination, Justice, Love, Protection, Wisdom
Magical Uses and History: Linden, also referred to as the Lime Tree, is one of the most magical trees in the world, especially among Slavic traditions. However, to understand the full history of the linden we have to go back to Ancient Greece. There are two myths that include the linden tree, the first being the story of the nymph Philyra. Philyra was seduced by Cronos while he was shapeshifted into a horse and later gave birth to the centaur Chiron. After Chiron's birth, Philyra, upset that she had given birth to a monster, asked the gods to transform her into a linden tree, for which they obliged. Chiron grew up in the shade of the linden tree where his mother taught him wisdom and compassion. Chiron was so renowned for his wisdom that nobles sent their sons to be educated by him, where he taught under the linden tree. As such, the linden tree became known as a symbol of love, compassion, and wisdom. In the second Greek myth, Philemon and Baucis, a classical couple married by Zeus, were allowed to die at the same time so they wouldn't be parted. Philemon's body metamorphosed into an oak tree, the symbol of hospitality, while Baucis's body turned into a linden tree, thus symbolizing love, beauty, and grace, characteristics prized in a wife. As such, the linden tree can be used in love spells, marriage spells, and to bring wisdom.

Herodot later mentions that Scythian soothsayers used linden leaves to obtain inspiration and foretell the future, while the Enarei people used linden bark for divination. Either way, the linden tree can be used for divination, especially divination pertaining to love.

The Greek myths carried over into Roman mythology, where the linden tree was associated with both Venus (love) and Junona (wisdom). Young couples would decorate their home and altars with boughs of linden flowers to promote wisdom and long-lasting love. The poet Ovidiu recorded young women wearing crowns of linden flowers to honor fertility goddesses, but which exactly is unknown.

In pre-Christian Germanic mythology, the linden tree was associated with Freya, the goddess of life, torture, fertility, love, and truth, all characteristics associated with the linden tree. It was said that lightning would not strike a linden tree because of Freya's marriage to Odin. Linden trees were commonly planted in the town square or another central location and later near churches to act as the center. It was under the linden tree that tribal judgment was made, marriages were conducted, and celebrations held. Thus, the linden became associated with justice and peace and this practice of passing judgment lasted well into the Enlightenment period, and was often referred to as "under Tilia."  Because of this, the linden is perfect for spells pertaining to justice, peace, and other court matters.

Even after towns stopped using the linden as a tree of judgment, marriages were still often conducted under them. It was the sacred tree of lovers and fertility. In the shade of its branches, lovers would swear their eternal love to one another. According to French folklore, a marriage vow made under a linden tree would never fall apart. In Germanic folklore, this symbolism is immortalized in the poem Under der linden by Walter von der Vogelweide which tells the story of a maid and a knight who fall in love under a linden tree.

The tree is so scared to Slavic cultures that there are a number of towns named after the tree, including "Swieta Lipka" meaning "the Holy Linden Tree." It is a national emblem of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In Croatia, the month of June is named after the linden tree (Lipanj) whereas in Poland it's the month of July that bears the linden tree's name (Lipiec). In Poland, the linden tree was believed to have protective properties from both lightning (being associated with Freya), evil spirits, and baneful magic. Linden trees were planted outside of houses to protect against such ill tidings. The tree eventually made its way into Christian customs where it was believed to prevent temptation and sin. Prayers made under the linden tree were said to be more likely to be listened to because the linden was the tree of the Virgin Mary. Shrines to Mary were decorated with linden boughs, their soft nature being associated with love, protection, and peace. In Estonia and Lithuania, women would bring offerings to the linden tree to grant them fertility, while in many Polish villages, figures of the Virgin Mary were placed in the trunk of a linden tree to aid a woman in childbirth. It later became a Polish custom of the nobility to plant a linden tree after the birth of a firstborn or major wedding and named after the person the tree was meant to protect. Use linden branches and flowers to protect your home, ward away evil spirits, and bring peace to the home. Placed in the bedroom, it can promote fertility and fidelity while ensuring a lasting marriage. 

This only scratches the surface of the uses of the linden tree and some of the folklore and myths of the linden tree. There is so much more than what was covered in this post.

Linden can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Fertility Rites
    Marriage Spells
    Clearing Ritual Baths
    Protection Magic

Medicinal Uses: The flowers of the linden tree act as an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, mild sedative, and nerve tonic. It is often used to treat colds, fever, anxiety, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. When mixed with lavender or passionflower, it encourages relaxation and promotes healthy sleep. Linden flowers are generally safe for both children and adults but can cause hay fever in those allergic to pollen.

Preparation and Dosage: Linden flowers are usually taken as an infusion but can also be used in a tincture when treating anxiety. To make an infusion combine 2-3 teaspoons (2-10 oz) of dried flowers with one cup boiling water and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Take three times a day. Linden tea can be mixed with apple juice to cut the flavor. Combines well with elderflower, passionflower, and lavender. To relieve sinus pressure, combine 2 tablespoons of dried linden flower with 2 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and inhale the steam. For a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters up to three times a day.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! This Herbarium copy contains two pages and includes a recipe from Gather Victoria to make Semolina Sun Cake with Linden Blossom Syrup!

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Friday, April 2, 2021

Magical Properties of Sodalite

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